San Diego

Muddy Mess: Collapsed Storm Drain Pipe, Rain Runoff Causes Mudslides in Hillcrest

It was a muddy mess under the Washington Street Bridge at Sixth Avenue near State Route 163 Wednesday

Mud, rocks, debris and even personal belongings came tumbling down a hillside off State Route 163 in Hillcrest Wednesday when a storm drain pipe collapsed amid heavy rain. 

City of San Diego spokesman Arian Collins said the “slope failure” happened after a storm drain pipe broke under the Washington Street Bridge at Sixth Avenue, an often busy stretch of SR-163 as commuters pass Hillcrest heading into downtown San Diego.

“The rainwater runoff has eroded the bridge abutment and created a large hole right next to the berm at the bottom of the slope,” Collins explained.

He said city crews would install K-railing to keep debris from blocking the roadway. However, Collins cautioned that – depending on Wednesday’s rainfall – the mudslides may persist.

The morning mudslides were quite the sight. At one point, water gushed down the slope like a waterfall – and sounded like one, too. The harder it rained, the more dirt and debris came rushing down the Hillside.

Locals said a homeless encampment lives in the area underneath the bridge. Police officers surveyed the area and called out to see if anyone was trapped in the slides. They didn't find anyone under the bridge and no injuries were reported.

As of 1:30 p.m., Collins said city crews were evaluating the bridge to make sure it was secure. Crews will determine whether to keep it open or close it off to traffic, and were expected to remain in the area the rest of the day.

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